Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Honeybees: A Book Recommendation

Honeybees discovered a fairly large patch of clover in our backyard this summer. Early on I observed them buzzing around from flower to flower and wondered when (not if) one or more of my shoeless children would step on a bee. My children seemed oblivious to the bees in the clover, unless one buzzed near his head, so I knew it was just a matter of time until some one got stung.

A couple of weeks ago Ellie became the first, and hopefully only, bee sting victim of the summer. She came into the house crying and complaining that her foot hurt. I removed the stinger, wiped the area and gave hugs. Within a couple of minutes she returned outside to play.

Ellie's bee sting lead to lots of questions from Will about bees. So I did what any good mom does - I found a book from the library to answer his questions.

Our whole family enjoyed reading Honeybees written by Deborah Heiligman and illustrated by Carla Golembe. The book reads more like a narrative picture book than a dull non-fiction. It follows the lifespan of a single bee from an egg to a nurse bee to a worker bee gathering honey.

You will learn much about the honeybees buzzing around in your yard from reading this book. For example, a honeybee collects nectar for about 6 weeks over the course of 400 trips. After all that work she has enough nectar "to make about 7 grams of honey - the size of a packet of sugar." No wonder she's "as busy as a bee!"

After learning facts about the honeybee my boys are more understanding of them and not as afraid. They leave the bees alone and the bees leave them alone. Hopefully we can peacefully coexist in our backyard for the remainder of the summer.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Stephanie's Thoughts on Boy Clothes

Can you believe how fast the summer is flying by?! I sure can't. It won't be much longer and autumn will be upon us here in New England. Ah! Autumn. My favorite season. Colorful trees. Crisp morning air. Warm comfy clothes. What's not to love?

Well, shopping for those warm comfy clothes is one thing I don't love. I don't know who determines when to change the seasonal clothing in stores but whoever does it is crazy! Especially for those of us in New England. Seriously, who wants to buy a sleeveless Easter dress in February?! It's crazy, I'm tellin' ya, crazy!

But I digress.

With the changing seasons close at hand my thoughts have turned to clothes shopping for my kids. What do they need for fall and winter? How much is this gonna cost me? I have given some thought to how to organize this whole business. After all, buying a wardrobe for 3 kids is not a quick, simple or cheap undertaking.

Here are some of my conclusions about buying clothing for boys. First, hand-me-downs. I box up all of Will's clothes and Ben wears them in a year or two. I will be saving them after Ben (those worth saving anyway) and Baby #4 will wear them when he's big enough. This keeps money in my pocket. It also justifies spending a little more on Will's clothes to get good quality pieces that will last through 3 boys. T-shirts from Wal*Mart, while only $3, do NOT last. Take my word for it.

Next, I like my children to all coordinate when we go out in public. Especially the ones who are independently walking. I find it's easier to keep my eye on them and people know they go together. That means I need to have at least 2 sets of clothes in different sizes in the same colors. And since I'm using hand-me-downs it means I've got to plan ahead.

My final conclusions. Skip the characters and logos. Stick with solid color shirts as much as possible. And buy the same colors every year if possible. Another benefit is that the clothes won't go out of style in the 3-4 years it's going to take for #4 to grow into them.

With all of this in mind, this afternoon I sat down and made a complete list for a wardrobe for my boys. Keep in mind this list reflects our lifestyle and the seasons where we live (summer only lasts 3 months here). We aren't involved in extra-curricular activities, we home school, and if nothing is spilled on or sweated in it then it's still clean. That means I probably have fewer items on my list than you might have. Regardless, I hope this helps you think through your purchases ahead of time and plan them out so you aren't spending a fortune at Gymboree needlessly.

I know having a list might seem a little silly but how many times have you gone shopping, bought something, and then discovered you already owned something very similar to it? I know that's happened to me on more than one occasion. My plan is to take this list with me and mark off the items as I buy them. Even if that shirt is only $5, if I already bought one in the same color I'm wasting money not saving it.

Church or Dress-Up Clothes: Fall/Winter/Spring
Dress Slacks – khaki, navy blue
Corduroy Pants – brown, khaki, navy blue
Oxford Shirt – white, blue
Polo Shirt (long sleeve) – white, navy blue, red
Sweater Vest- brown, navy
Sweater -
Shoes - brown loafers
Socks – tan (2), navy blue (2), brown (1)
Tie – Clip on
Brown Belt – Dress up & Casual

Play Clothes: Fall/Winter/Spring
Blue jeans – (4)
Blue Jean overalls
Sweat Pants – navy blue, green
Sweat Shirts – navy blue, green
T-Shirt (long sleeve) – red, white, navy blue, black, green
Tennis shoes, Work Boots
Sports socks (7)

Outer Wear
Winter coat, Snow pants, Snow boots
Denim jacket, Light weight dressy/casual jacket
Hat & Gloves
Rain coat

Summer: Casual & Dress-up
Shorts – Khaki (3), Navy blue (2), Blue Jean (3)
Polo shirt (short sleeve) – White, Red, Navy blue
T-Shirt- Red, White, Navy, Green, Yellow
Sweater vest (light weight) – Navy Blue
Sandals – brown dress up, sport/play
Swim suit

Superman: winter version, summer version
Short sleeve/shorts: 4
Long sleeve/pants: 4
Fleece shirts/pants: 4

Underwear (10)
Undershirt – white (3)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A petting zoo at a hot air balloon festival? Yep.

You have no idea how huge it is that Ben not only willingly entered the petting zoo but also voluntarily petted the animals. With no tears! No fear! This is the same child who's afraid of the squirrels in our backyard and won't play out there alone for fear that a stray cat will climb over the fence. An approaching dog or cat sends him running to me every time. I am so proud of him of being brave!The goat was a big hit.

A baby duck.
There were also different kinds of chickens but they weren't as cute as the baby ducks.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Three Haircutting Victims

About two years ago we decided to start buzzing Joel and the boys hair at home. We bought a cheap buzzer from Wal*Mart and set to work. This spring those buzzers broke. I'm not surprised they were only about $20. And they didn't produce a very even cut or quick cut.

So, my efficient husband set about researching buzzers on-line. He found some reviews of a professional-grade buzzer brand called Oster. Every review loved them. NO negative reviews. Fantastic!

BUT the buzzer and the accessory combs/guards (what lets you set the length) together cost about $130 on Amazon. Giant GULP! But, when you consider that a boy/man's haircut costs me $15 and multiply that by 3 (in another year or so it will be 4!) then I'm spending $45 every trip to the barber. Now do that 3 times and I just paid for the Oster.

We bit the bullet and spent the money. Money well spent I say! It's like a hot knife through butter!!! I haven't bought quality hair shears yet to allow me to do a fancy cut. I'm just strictly buzzing 'em. And they love it. Joel likes how little time and effort it takes to care for his hair. The boys are MUCH cooler in the summer. And Joel likes how little effort it takes when he washes their hair.

All of that to say, after about 6 weeks, tonight was haircuttin' night. Here is a before picture. Joel and Will have begun to complain about how "long" their hair is. Ha!Ha!

What a ham!
This is the after picture. Still a bunch of hams! Can't you just see the mischief dripping off of them? And I have another boy in the oven! O Lord, have mercy on me!!

We're standing outside because that's where we do haircuts in the summer. Makes clean up MUCH easier. This time I used the same comb/guard on all 3 of them. I have been doing the boys a little longer. I always feel sad about buzzing Ben's thick beautiful waves off. But, the sweat has really been dripping around here and I swear they are rolling in the dirt so having shorter hair will be easier to take care of. In case you are wondering, I used a #4 comb for all over and a small beard trimmer for around the ears and across the back of the neck.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Flying Wallendas' High Wire Act

The Flying Wallendas fascinated my boys while at the South County Hot Air Balloon Festival. You can see why for yourself!No net or cables!!!
See the little girl perched on his shoulders? She's six years old.

This lady is her mom.
I can't do this on the ground. Never mind in the air!!
Will asked lots of questions about the bicycle.

Are you fascinated, too?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cowboy Book Recommendation

Recently Joel brought home a Bob the Builder DVD from the library. In this particular DVD Bob goes on a western adventure. Cowboys. Lassos. Horses. Cows. They were all included. As a result of watching this DVD, Will has been greatly interested in cowboys this month.

So we took a little ride on down to the library and checked us out some cowboy books. I'll spare you the mediocre ones we brought home and just tell you about the one I wouldn't mind owning.The Cowboy's Handbook: How to Become a Hero of the Wild West. By Tod Cody.

If you are looking for a generic non-fiction book describing the life and history of cowboys, this is your book. It would make a great addition for a home school unit on Cowboys. A chili recipe, a pattern for making your own pint sized chaps, and instructions for lassoing would all make wonderful activities mixed in with descriptions of famous Cowboys and a cowboy's life. This book might be enough to satisfy your young cowboy or it might just whet his appetite for more.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The air was hot but not inside the balloons.

Did you miss the 30th Annual South County Hot Air Balloon Festival? Don't worry if you did. You can go next year. We almost missed it. We found out about it Saturday afternoon and missed most of the really good stuff when we visited for a few hours Sunday afternoon and evening.

Sadly, the wind blew briskly all day so there were no balloons aloft. Neither was there a sign saying there would be no balloons. At least not that we saw. After spending a couple of hours watching the Flying Wallendas' High Wire Act, Hot Dog and Sue-Wee Pig Races, some jugglers and visiting a petting farm we concluded there would be no hot air balloons.

We finished our carnival-style hot dogs and doughboy and started discussing heading home when we spotted a family maneuvering a hot air balloon basket. Upon closer inspection we learned the family had landed in a tree farm the day before and were laying out their balloon to inspect for sap damage. Yippee for us! Even though we missed the spectacular stuff, we had a great time.

A large fan was used to partially inflate the balloon enough to inspect it.
You can see the basket laying on it's side and the balloon extended in front of it.
Looking inside the balloon as a fan blows air inside.
The owners encouraged us to touch the balloon and answered lots of questions. They even enlisted Joel's help when finished with their inspection and deflating the balloon.
We were told there are bigger balloons than this one.
Will even got to help.

The people in the background are standing at the other end of the balloon.
Judging from Joel's grin, I think he enjoyed helping.
Ellie is never content on the sidelines.
Joel and Will helped squeeze air out of the balloon.
Carrying the balloon to it's storage bag.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Quote of the Day - Languages

"Uncle Stephen speaks another language." - Will, age 5.

You should know Uncle Stephen is my brother. He lives in Arkansas, raises cows and hunts deer. He speaks English - just not Rhode Island English! LOL!

I really gotta get that boy down South where people talk right (said with a twang).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

When the brimstone starts falling THEN I'll get concerned.

We've experienced an unusual number of thunderstorms here in Rhode Island this summer. I mean REAL thunderstorms with warnings and everything! The kids and I were driving home from the grocery store during one storm when the EMERGENCY BROADCAST SIGNAL interrupted our radio programming (K-LOVE) to inform us of a thunderstorm warning.

Really? Thanks! I hadn't noticed the thick black clouds hanging in the sky or the raindrops falling on my windshield.

"DANGEROUS thunderstorm. Heavy rains, lightening, and strong winds. If you are outside, go indoors or seek cover. Lightening kills many people every year. If you can hear the thunder then you are close enough to be struck by lightening."

I'm NOT exaggerating. Needless to say, my children were starting to freak out because of this crazy person on the radio. I just laughed at his last statement and told my children it wasn't true. Just because you can hear the thunder doesn't mean you will be can be hit by lightening! For Pete's Sake. Hasn't he ever heard that you count the seconds between when you see the lightening and when you hear the thunder and that's how many miles away it is?! Talk about over reaction. I assured Will and Ben we were safe and there was nothing to fear.

Later in the evening, just as Joel got home, the heavens opened and dumped buckets of rain on our house. They also added HAIL. I've only seen hail a handful of times in the decade we've lived in Rhode Island. Mostly it was pea-sized but there were a few small acorn-sized pieces. My boys thought it was really cool to watch it fall from the safety of our breezeway (enclosed porch). And lest you think I exaggerate, I took pictures. Afterward there was even a rainbow. Sadly, those pictures aren't clear enough to see.

It occurs to me that I should add a note about New England weather for you folks down South. We don't get tornadoes here. More accurately I should say a tornado is extremely rare. Sort of like an earthquake in eastern Arkansas - they happen about once every hundred years or so.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow...

"I will throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing
that you won't have enough room for it,' says the Lord Almighty." Malachi 3:10

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Home Garden and A Milk Cow might help me.

What do you buy week in and week out at the grocery store? How much are you paying for it these days?

Click over to Stephanie's Mommy Brain in the Kitchen and see what I usually buy every week. I'll tell you now I paid $43.04 for it. I'm satisfied with how much I got for my money but not thrilled.

Sometimes I'm reminded I also have a daughter!

Ellie watched with great interest as I gave myself a pedicure (not the easiest task when 6 months pregnant!). When I finished she looked up and said, "Me next." How could I resist?

Ps. My feet really are the same size. And Ellie really is darker than I am thanks to her daddy's genetics.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I saved $36.44!

You may recall back in the spring I had a bump removed from my leg. Well, the dermatologist's office sent me a bill for $36.44. I finally got around to calling about the bill. Why call? Because I have a co-pay of $25. Given that $11.44 will now buy me almost 3 gallons of gas it was worth calling about.

Sure enough, the billing department had made a mistake and I didn't owe anything! Yippee!!! I love it when that happens! So my tip for today is to know your insurance and don't be afraid to question the bills that come to your house.

I tried to convince Joel that since I'd saved us the $36.44 I should get it instead of the doctor. He didn't go for it. It was worth a try.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Decorating thoughts for Ellie's room.

I'm sure you are all sitting on the edge of your seats wondering what we've decided about our bed/decorating situation. If you have no clue what I'm talking about go here and here to read my rambling thoughts on the topic.

For now, Will & Ben will remain in their current bedroom. Now to the task of decorating and organizing Ellie's current room for a 2 year old girl and infant boy (in October). For the bed I'm pretty sure we're just going to buy a set of twin mattresses and a frame to put them on. That's what the boys have and it works well for us. I'd love to buy her a whole set of furniture but the reality is there's no space for it. Hopefully we'll be in a bigger house in 3-5 years and who knows what we'll need/want then.

In the meantime, I'm making due with the furniture I have, buying the mattresses and focusing on the decorating. I've even found a way my sweet husband won't have to paint the walls (he's THRILLED!).

I'm planning to use this painting by Joel's paternal Grandmother as the inspiration for colors. These two pictures do NOT do it justice (or the blue of the wall for that matter). It's hard to tell, but there are pink and yellow flowers in the foreground and a small pond in the valley. I'm considering having it re-framed. I think this frame is beautiful but a little formal for a child's room.
For other wall decor I'm considering some kind of wallpaper pieces (NOT the whole room, Sweetheart!) to go around her bed. A tree at Lowe's looks like it might be fun. I've also seen wallpaper that only goes half-way up the wall and looks like a picket fence. I can't find in on the Lowe's site right now and I'm running out of patience to look. I was thinking of using some at the head of her bed like a headboard. The only problem with that is it would restrict me on furniture placement.

Another idea I've toyed with is to frame pictures of me, Ellie's grandmas, and maybe great-grandmas as girls or young women.

During my recent Girls Weekend I saw this quilt at Country Curtains. I loved it immediately! So I went back and took pictures. The twin size is $100 and the pillow sham is $30 so they are a little pricey for me BUT they are quality products and very versatile. Unfortunately, it's not in the catalog or on-line, thankfully I visited the store that day or I would have never seen it.

Some of the pinwheels are pink and purple floral prints so it's definitely a feminine quilt.
The backside is this floral print.
They used a yellow gingham for other pillows on the bed. I think a gingham would really help set off Ellie's bed as girly without overwhelming the room AND yellow would look nice with the walls.
I like the look of the white dust ruffle with the quilt but want a few more feminine details. I think this eyelet from Bed, Bath & Beyond will work really well. Bonus, the twin is only $20! Amy suggested that with the eyelet I might be able to layer another colored bed skirt underneath to add more color to the bed. I think this is a great idea I'm going to consider.

Next will be to find a throw rug, lampshade, and drawer knobs for the changing table. The bed skirt on the crib and the curtain on the window are the same as the bed skirts on the boys' beds. So I think they'll coordinate with the primary colors in the quilt but I'm also considering taking a plain white curtain set from the boys' room and putting it in Ellie's. The white muslin curtains would coordinate well with the white eyelet bed skirt. Then I'll have to find new curtains for the boys. = ) See how this works. = ) I've never been thrilled with the curtains in the boys' room anyway but haven't found an alternative I like better.

I think those are all my thoughts on the subject for now. I'll keep you posted as I find (and buy) pieces. I promise to post pictures when it's all said and done.

Friday, July 11, 2008


On Monday, July 7, Will sat at the table and drew pictures while I had a quiet time. Let me interpret his drawing, which I knew nothing of until he finished.

Blue = sky. Yellow sun. Yellow vertical line = side of our house (it's sort of yellowish cream in color). Red = Joel's maroon truck. Green = grass. Black = dirt under grass.

WILL = his signature.
IWFU = I love you.
DAD = DAD (without the backwards D).

He sounded out the words and spelled them himself! He's not reading yet so this is huge for us! I tried to teach him to read last fall and we both ended up frustrated. I think he's ready to try again.

And couldn't you just eat him up after drawing something like that?!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hot, sweaty, strawberry-stained and looking for mischief.

I realize very few people actually care to see ALL of these pictures but you can't really see the mischief unless you view all of them and know they were taken as quickly as my camera would allow.
In case you are wondering:
Mia (3), Emma (5), Ellie (2 in August), Will (5), Micah (4.5), Ben (3.5).
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